The Ambassador in Brazil ( Berle ) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 29–6:30 p.m.]
1677. Depcirtel May 26, 4 p.m. Respectfully request Dept again review instructions as applied to Brazil.
Brazil is not party to terms of surrender; and certainly has assented to nothing which would transfer Brazilian rights to four Allied Powers.
Brazil claims these archives, and a lot of other German property, as her own, by right of capture and as victor over an enemy country. Nothing has happened giving third parties rights thereto; and she would certainly not only object but bitterly resent any assumption that the four Allied Powders had become vested with right to German property in Brazil seized by Brazil.
Embassy believes Dept’s circular under reference is accurate statement of position as respecting German property held by neutrals such as Switzerland and possibly in Allied countries subject to Allied military occupation; but does not believe that there is any justification in law or in fact for asserting position as against Brazil. Further it is unnecessary since Brazil has already promised access to information in question. There is indeed not the foggiest justification in international law or our present relations for demanding anything more and in practice this will in Embassy’s opinion, get us what we want.[Page 1146]
Joint demand here by four principal Allies for possession of these archives would provoke immediate explosion. Therefore ask reconsideration of instructions. If Dept decides to make demand on Brazil for German property seized here based on mere military force of four principal Allies, Embassy would prefer to have nothing to do with it and leave it to negotiation in Washington. It was Germany who surrendered, not Brazil.